Hallelujah!

Well I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
Well it goes like this:
The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah”

Andrew plays a chord while Valerie listens.

As our eldest son, Andrew, played the chords of Leonard Cohen’s song, Hallellujah, in the backyard of our Phoenix-area rented home, Betty & I enjoyed the company of our family for a belated Christmas celebration. We were in a community appropriately named Anthem, Arizona!  Our fabulous week together can best be summed up in one word: Hallellujah!

Our belated Christmas family gathering. Back row: Graham,Adam, Lisa, Valerie, Andrew, Allon.
Front row: Kevin, Georgia, Betty, Isabella, Luke & James, with the wrong end of Charlie in front.

For the first time in 40 years, we had not been together with our family for end-of-December festivities. Betty & I were anxious for a happy gathering to take place.

Before our family’s plane landed, Betty & I enjoyed an Arizona sunset over our backyard bbq area.

We didn’t want to drive our motorhome back to Winnipeg, necessitating winterizing and de-winterizing, and we didn’t want to put our aging golden doodle, Charlie, in a kennel and fly home. So we said to our family: “If we rent a house in Phoenix, will you come and spend a belated Christmas with us in January, when flights are cheaper again?” They all answered “yes”, and our gathering last week was the result. As a bonus, my brother, Allon, was able to fly down from the Yukon to spend a couple of days with us as well.  A great time was had by all, with the following pictures providing some evidence. 

Our now 12 year old Isabella chills in a backyard seating area with her Nana and Uncle Andrew. That’s not real grass, btw, this is Arizona…
Luke and James try a game of bocce ball, while Adam, Georgia, Valerie & Lisa relax in the sunshine.
Our yard also included a putting green, with some holes more difficult than others…
Andrew lines up a shot in the billiards room.
Lisa takes a break in the backyard hammock.
James, Isabella & Georgia challenge Nana to a game of Monopoly in the family room, while Charlie watches the fun. Note the home owners left the Christmas tree and some decorations up for us – much thanks!
For one of our day trips, family members went fruit-picking on a local farm. The various types of fresh oranges and grapefruit were delicious!
Another day trip was to the Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona. Here a 1967 Volkswagen bus is on the block.
I missed out on buying this 1961 Nash Metropolitan. Back in the day, I owned two of them – a 1957 & 1959, purchased for $75. for both. I think this one went for a little more…
Andrew & Kevin check out this hot yellow Bugatti. I would have bought it, but didn’t like the colour. lol
We also went for a hike around nearby Lake Pleasant.
Lisa & Adam stand amazed by the giant cactus, on a clear blue sunny Saturday in January.
A variety of plants, not seen in Manitoba, caught our attention along the path.
This cactus reminded me of directions from our navigator: Which way do we go?
Kevin and Valerie share a kiss along the path.
Andrew finds himself deep in conversation with his niece, Georgia.
Back at our home, it’s time to cool off in the pool. Here James and his dad splash it up.
Valerie checks her phone by the pool.
Betty takes a break in one of the quiet outdoor seating areas, while Charlie naps nearby. The home had comfortable outdoor seating for approximately 40 people.
Bet, Lisa & Valerie consult on meal preparations in the spacious kitchen, while Isabella passes on the way from the pool.
For Christmas dinner, Kevin did the honours of carving the birds.
After dinner, Uncle Allon examines a number of family pictures brought by Andrew for the occasion, while Georgia, Betty, Valerie & Andrew look on.
Lisa, Andrew, Adam & Betty take on a challenging puzzle, while Uncle Allon tells a story.
The northern lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see… Betty, Andrew, Adam & Lisa celebrate completing a challenging puzzle.
Lisa plays a late night game of bocce ball.
In the evening, we all retired to the patio, warmed by our love for each other and the overhead heater.
Andrew gives his older sister, Valerie, a hug.
Betty has some snuggle time with her granddaughter, Isabella.
Keeping us alive with the sound of music.
Andrew plays another chord, while Uncle Allon, Valerie, Betty, Lisa, Georgia and James catch up. Hallelujah!

Overall, it was a wonderful experience for a couple of full-time RVers to spend some quality time with their family.  We hope that all who wander this earth can find opportunities to connect in ways that inspire and evoke the response of King George II, on hearing George Frideric Handel’s Messiah: Stand up and sing Hallelujah!

Andrew stretches his long arms for a group hug.

Belated Merry Christmas & Cheers!

Fun In The Desert Sun

When Betty & I were planning our travels, we were keenly aware of how much natural water has played an important visual role in our vacations. Our destinations have usually included oceans, lakes, rivers, and streams, with many preferred choices including a combination of these.  Water has also played an audio roll, as we have been pacified by the gentle sound of lake waves on the shore; electrified by the crash of ocean waves or waterfalls; and lulled to sleep near babbling brooks.

These dry creek beds, or “washes” are common in the desert. Despite signs everywhere warning of flash flooding, we have yet to see a drop of water there.

So how would we handle up to four months in the desert? Betty & I knew from our earlier two week visit that water is a scarcity here. There are no car washes, and we haven’t seen a swimming pool yet, in Quartzsite, Arizona. Grass is non-existent in this arid land, except as previously noted in the artificially created oasis from Parker to Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Yes, there is fertile growing land down in Yuma, but after spending time in Quartzsite, it appears to all the senses as an extreme novelty! Did you see that big tree? Did you smell that field? Did you feel that grass? Check out all those colourful flowers!

One of our hikes took us to the top of this hill behind our campsite. It doesn’t look that steep, but you must step carefully over loose rocks on parts of the climb.

As a result of our past experience, and inability to predict our reaction to a seemingly desolate space, we created a Plan B. Betty & I decided that if we could not hack a full winter in the desert, we would either travel one day to the Pacific Ocean out west, or a few days back east to one of the free beach camping spots on the Gulf of Mexico.

Betty nears the top of one of the hills by our campsite.

Well I can’t use the saying that “the bloom is (not) off the rose”, because this climate is a little too dry for growing roses, or any other flora and fauna anyway. We are extremely happy with our choice so far! BTW, when we first arrived, I went around gathering rocks to create a fire pit. Usually when one picks up a large rock, all kinds of little creatures scurry out from underneath. Here in the desert – not so much: I didn’t see one bug under any of the 20+ stones collected.  And on a related subject, last year in Florida we had to keep our screen door closed, so that our motorhome wouldn’t be filled with flies, mosquitos, and other nuisance insects. While we keep our screen door closed here out of habit, and to keep Charlie in or out, it is not really necessary. Flies and other such bugs appear few and far between in the desert.  Bonus!

The view from the top shows a growing number of RVs on the BLM land around Quartzsite.
This pic shows the white roof of “the big tent” that draws many thousands of RVers to Quartzsite for the last two weeks of January. The population grows from about 3600 year-round to sometimes over a million in January.
In addition to the big tent, there are dozens of smaller tents set up, selling almost anything you can think off. While we went for the novelty of it – not intending to buy – we came away with 3 new Persian carpets for our entry stairs. They were $5. each – no tax.
I had to pick up another $5. carpet to replace the scrap that I used in front of our motorhome’s driver’s seat.
I also added a new strip of LED lights over our cook-top, to replace the light that was removed when our old microwave came out.
A last view of Quartzsite, from our mountaintop experience. An abandoned mine is in the foreground.
Back to our home in the desert, after our hike up the hill.

So far, Betty & I have found lots to do, and we are far from bored with our choice of winter destination. Apart from a couple of overcast and light rainy days over Christmas in Lake Havasu City, we have seen nothing but blue skies and beautiful days here. Nights turn cold as soon as the sun goes down, but we prefer sleeping under warm blankets in the cool night air, without the need for air conditioners like last winter in Florida.

In addition to hiking, Betty has been joining our next door neighbour, Helen (and 50 other women), at the Tuesday quilting guild in Quartzsite. Thanks to our solar panels and lithium batteries, Betty has been able to run her sewing machine and iron all day, making new creations, including this colourful bag.
Another night warmed by the kindness of our neighbours around a communal fire.

This week we are headed to Phoenix to spend a “Christmas week” with our family. It will be another unique experience for us – and for them – and we look forward to sharing some of it in a future post.

How can I express just how fantastic my wife is? For dinner last night she prepared my favourite Italian meal: saltimbocca alla romana! Fabulous!!! And it’s not even my birthday yet!

Cheers!

On the first part of the journey 
I was looking at all the life 
There were plants and birds and rocks and things 
There was sand and hills and rings 
The first thing I met was a fly with a buzz 
And the sky with no clouds 
The heat was hot and the ground was dry 
But the air was full of sound 

I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name 
It felt good to be out of the rain 
In the desert you can remember your name 
‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain 
La, la … 

After two days in the desert sun 
My skin began to turn red 
After three days in the desert fun 
I was looking at a river bed 
And the story it told of a river that flowed 
Made me sad to think it was dead 

You see I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name 
It felt good to be out of the rain 
In the desert you can remember your name 
‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain 
La, la … 

Written by Dewey Bunnell, ©1971 and recorded by America.

Another typical dry wash in the desert, usually bordered by hardy bushes. Where’s the water?

There. Not There.

Those who follow our posts will know that Betty & I have been counting down (or up, depending on your perspective on life – lol) the number of provinces and states visited on our overlandish odyssey. We have a sticker map of North America on our entry door, with Betty or I usually pictured pasting another jurisdiction for our post. May 8, 2019 was the last such entry, with Betty sticking to Illinois (state # 36), while I added Wisconsin (state # 37). That’s a full eight months with no new additions. Are we falling down on the job or what?!!

Betty walks down the road in our current campground at Quartzsite, Arizona. Well, on BLM land, it’s more of a dirt path through the desert, than a road. There are no assigned campsites. People park wherever they like, as long as it is not too close to a neighbour, or in a dry creek bed. Once off the beaten path (or beatnik path as I have coined it) one can drive as far into the desert as they like. But if your vehicle isn’t a raised 4×4, you may not want to venture too far afield.

Well yes, we have been travelling quite a bit since then – adding 5,500 miles (not kms) to our motorhome’s odometer – but it has all been to states previously visited on this adventure.

For New Year’s Eve, we joined our neighbours at a campfire hosted by a couple from Osoyoos, British Columbia. Fellow campers come from all over North America, with a fair number of Canadians represented in this warm patch of Arizona desert.

Until last week… 

We were in Yuma, Arizona paying our pay-as-you-go Verizon jetpack bill, and picking up a few groceries. When it was time to return to Quartzsite, we asked Samantha (our gps) for the most direct route from our location. As she took us over a bridge, Samantha announced that we were crossing a state border into California. She then told us we were entering a different time zone. Samantha next advised us to turn right at the end of the bridge. She then reported we were crossing a state border into Arizona, and entering another time zone.  This whole process took less than 90 seconds!

Every night we see amazing sunsets from our campsite. If you look closely, you can just make out our Smart, our beach tent to moderate the sun, and a tilted solar panel on our roof, to capture the warmth from that big ball in the sky. Apologies to my photography course instructor for not adjusting the aperture on this one…

So yes, Betty & I were there in California – our 38th state. But we were not really there long enough to count. 

As previously mentioned, because there are no electrical hook-ups in the desert, solar is the way to go. This unit has 4,860 watts of electricity coming from at least 20 solar panels on the motorhome and trailer.

At the end of March, we hope to cross over to Palm Springs, California and make our way up the eastern side of the state, through Joshua Tree National Park, Sequoia National Park, and Yosemite National Park, on our way to the state capitol of Sacramento, before heading back to Winnipeg. Next year – 2021 now – we hope to drive down the Pacific Coast all the way from Port Angeles, Washington, to San Diego, California

Another colourful sky surrounds our motorhome, as the sun drops over the horizon.

So we definitely want to see more of our 38th state than the 90 seconds last week. As with all of our travels, we never really know what to expect. But we’re very much looking forward to visiting this one state with a larger population than all of Canada! And I’m sure that will take more than two minutes next time…

You can just make out our campsite sign in the bottom right of this shot.

Cheers!

These dry creek beds – called “washes” are everywhere in the Arizona desert. So far we haven’t witnessed any heavy rains, but are told that flash flooding can occur, with up to 5 feet of water surging through these otherwise dry beds.
Apologies if you are bored with sunset pics, but Betty & I marvel at the evening sky every day. It’s simply stunning!

Back In The Desert And Lovin’ It

Ok, it’s only been three days since our last post, so why are we adding more ones and zeros to the digital universe so soon? Firstly, the good news (well secondly and thirdly, it’s all good news…) our dear granddaughter, Georgia, got a special Boxing Day gift this year – the successful surgical removal of her appendix!  And she is now resting at home, doing great – yeah Georgia! What a Christmas surprise for her, her sister, Isabella, and dear parents, Kevin & Valerie, with a whole lot of stress release now that it’s all over.

A view from Lake Havasu State Park of the man-made lake, with the mountains behind.

As noted in our last post, Betty & I spent most of Christmas week at Lake Havasu State Park. Within the park is a beautiful little garden where all the native Arizona plants and trees are labelled, for easy reference. On Christmas day we enjoyed a peaceful walk through the park, and up a small hill to a great view of Lake Havasu, the nearby community, and the mountains beyond.

Betty & Charlie pass a Jumping Cholla in this charming little garden.
Prickly Pear, Saguaro, and Organ Pipe Cactus were all featured in this garden.
Here’s a bigger prickly pear – common throughout Arizona.
Various forms of the Mesquite tree are also common throughout Arizona.
Betty & Charlie enjoy the view from the hill overlooking the park’s garden.
On the centre left of the pic, you will see Betty & Charlie making their way down the steep path to the botanical garden.
Pic of another great sunset on Christmas day, taken from our campground at Lake Havasu City, Arizona

On the drive back to Quartzsite yesterday, we passed the magnificent Emerald Canyon Golf Course, north of Parker, Arizona. Labelled “The Jewel in the Desert” this 18 hole course, overlooking the Colorado River, features brilliant green tee boxes, fairways and greens, all nestled into a rugged, otherwise arid landscape. Truly spectacular!

Such an odd sight to see: A gorgeous, lush course in the middle of a desert!
An Emerald Canyon Golf Course fairway. I would love to play this course with brother-in-law Jack, and son Andrew, and promise not to drive over Andrew with the golf cart again. lol
View from my spot at the driving range: How could one not feel mellow?
Looking down the driving range tee spots, on a not-too-busy day. The mountain range is lit up by the sun in the background.

Having purchased a new set of clubs in Florida last winter, and having taken golf lessons last spring, I was very aware of the “use it or lose it” effect: If you don’t develop muscle and mental memory, it’s difficult to stay in the swing of things.

One of the course putting greens. My ball found the hole much more often than usual. Another practice green is designed for chipping.

We didn’t have time to pull in for a round of 18 or even 9 holes on this fabulous course, but were able to take a couple of hours for Betty to set up her sewing machine in the parking lot, while I knocked out a few buckets of balls on the amazingly beautiful driving range.

Another breathtaking view of the driving range. One normally doesn’t see this much grass in Arizona!

So we are back in the same desert spot in Quartzsite we vacated on Monday, and are now setting up for a longer stay. I’m sure there will be many more stories to tell about this magical place, but wanted to get this post up before the accumulated pictures got out of hand.

Just another sunset last night, over the hills beyond our campsite in the desert.

While the common image of a desert is of a barren, desolate space, so far Betty & I have experienced the warm embrace of neighbours in our corner of the La Posa West Long Term Visitor Area. Yes, we’re back in the desert and lovin’ it!

Cheers!

.
Two wylie cayotes were carved into stumps in the Lake Havasu State Park garden.
We think they were after this roadrunner, which we captured on our drive through Lake Havasu City. BEEP, BEEP!
So this isn’t the roadrunner or coyote on our grill. It’s our non-traditional Christmas dinner of two inch thick Edes Meat Market rib eye steak, potatoes, and asparagus. Cheers!

Merry Christmas From Lake Havasu!

A Christmas selfie from Betty, Charlie & Graham to you, with love.

Well this is different. For the first time in 40 years Betty & I are celebrating Christmas without our family. It is also the first Christmas where we are sitting outside in the Arizona sun, without a hint of snow in the air or on the ground. Like the character Tevye in “Fidler On The Roof” we are a family steeped in tradition, and are definitely not accustomed to breaking all those customs. This is very different!

Our Lake Havasu State Park campsite (#11) is $35./night for 50 amp service & water. The lakeside campground is within the city limits.

Yes, we enjoyed some FaceTime with our family a couple of days ago, while they joined together for the traditional Chinese food pre-Christmas meal. And Betty & I did get our annual FaceTime with the Queen today, as she delivered her Christmas message. (Note to our kids, in case you missed it: I saved a copy on our VCR, so you can see it when you come down to Phoenix for a belated Christmas celebration next month. lol)

We are as close to London Bridge today as the Queen was, back in the day – when the bridge was actually in London… The bridge is decorated for the season, but we haven’t seen it lit up at night yet.

In the meantime, we truly miss this traditional time with each of our kids and grandkids, especially our dear granddaughter, Georgia, who had to spend a very non-traditional Christmas eve night and part of Christmas day in Winnipeg’s Children’s Hospital as she prepares for surgery to have her appendix removed tomorrow! Here’s expecting another great story to tell about a very memorable Christmas, and a most unique Boxing Day present!

We saw Santa hanging out on one of the poles in downtown Lake Havasu City. Given the absence of snow, it was definitely NOT the North Pole. lol

While the Christmas carols we sang at church on Sunday were traditional, the church itself was far from it. We were still on BLM land at Quartzsite, with very few structures in the desert. On Sundays, the picnic shelter doubles as a church, and it was in that outdoor space that we sang “Oh Come All Ye Faithfull” and other favourites, led by a cowboy preacher in the appropriate hat and boots.

Heavily laden orange tree, decorated Christmas tree, two palm trees and a cactus: Not a Winnipeg scene.

 We have no room for a Christmas tree in our motorhome, and Christmas decorations are few and far between, except for the ornaments we passed on this Lake Havasu City tree, which was next to a fully loaded orange tree, which was in front of two palm trees and a thriving cactus. You don’t see that every day in Winnipeg. lol 

Another view of that front-yard orange tree in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

Yes, this is all very different. But the reason for the season remains the same. We hope to be reunited with our family again on FaceTime later today, and pray that we and you can enjoy a very happy Christmas and wonder-filled new year!  

A nutcracker salutes as we pass by on McCullough Drive in Lake Havasu City yesterday.

Cheers!

O come, all ye faithful
Joyful and triumphant
O come ye, o come ye to Bethlehem
Come and behold Him
Born the King of Angels!

O come, let us adore Him
O come, let us adore Him
O come, let us adore Him
Christ the Lord

O come, all ye faithful
O come, all ye faithful
O come, all ye faithful to Bethlehem
O come, all ye faithful
O come, all ye faithful
O come, all ye faithful to Bethlehem

Oh, sing, choirs of angels
Sing in exultation
Oh, come, oh come ye to Bethlehem
Come and behold Him
Born the King of Angels

O come, let us adore Him
O come, let us adore Him
O come, let us adore Him
Christ the Lord…”

After a day of unusual grey skies and drizzle, the clouds have rolled away to reveal dramatic mountains across the lake from our campsite. A true masterpiece!

Quirky Quartzsite – Off The Beatnik Path

Some one-of-a-kind places just defy easy description. Yesterday Betty & I returned to one of them. Quartzsite, Arizona is a most quirky community that has to be seen and felt to be believed. We came for two weeks on the first leg of our overlandish odyssey, and decided that we should try a longer stay, now that we have solar panels and lithium batteries to keep us powered up in the desert. It became a major destination for the current leg of our adventure. Arriving yesterday, we are still getting acclimatized again, and have much, much more to experience in this off-the-beatnik-path wonderland. But I thought I’d provide another brief introduction.

As we pulled into one of the long-term visitor areas, a sweet couple of volunteers greeted us and provided a map, long-term camping brochure, visitor guide, and permit that allows us to camp on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land until April 15, 2020 for a total of $180. So if one were to stay here for the full 7 months a year, that works out to less than $1./day!
The campground hosts attached stickers to our car and motorhome that allow us to dump our waste tanks and refill our freshwater at no extra charge.
The campground host attached stickers to our car and motorhome that allow us to dump our waste tanks, refill our freshwater and use the dumpsters as needed (Betty would say PRN. lol) at no extra charge.
We pulled off the road and parked in the desert among this scrub yesterday. There are large & small holes in the ground everywhere, but we’re just not sure who’s living there yet…
Here is a view of our “campsite” from a different angle. There are many, many acres of BLM land on which to park, relax & enjoy the fresh air and spectacular views.
Betty took Charlie for an early morning walk, before the sun got too hot. Even though we watched tv last night, left lights on inside & out all night, and made coffee this morning (with freshly burr-ground beans, of course), our batteries returned to 100% charged before noon. No generator required!
These are some fellow long-term campers, in a more congested section of long-term visitor BLM land, just south of Quartzsite, Arizona.
We took a drive today to some of the free camping areas on BLM land around Quartzsite. This one to the west is called “Dome Rock”. No assigned parking: Just choose your preferred view.
Most people have at least one solar panel. This camper has at least 9 large panels to keep his coach energized!
At Quartzsite, RVs come in all shapes and sizes. Here’s another combination.
Hey ass – get off the road! Betty & I encountered a number of wild donkeys before we left Lake Pleasant. At Quartzsite, one also never quite knows what you are about to see in this quirky community. More later…

Cheers!

Most Pleasant Lake Pleasant

“Stay, ah just a little bit longer…”

Just one of the 360 degree views at our Gilbert Ray site.

As Betty & I traverse the continent on this overlandish odyssey, it can be accurately noted that we are continuing to learn as we go. Prior to our departure in December, 2017, I mapped out a 5-year plan that would take us to 48 states and 10 provinces, keeping us at moderate temperatures throughout the journey. We are now at the end of our second year, having already visited 37 states and 6 provinces. It is definitely time to slow down!

The road north from our campground lead through Saguaro National Park – an amazing cactus forest.

Our return visit to Gilbert Ray Campground in Tucson was planned as a 2 day stop, rather than 3, but the Maricopa County web site for Lake Pleasant campgrounds near Phoenix didn’t allow for next day booking, and site A56 at the Tucson area park was as stunning as we remembered it from our earlier visit, so we stayed a little bit longer.

Cacti of all shapes and sizes bordered our route.

And our stay at Lake Pleasant was to be 3 days, rather than 5. While our first site (#139) in Desert Tortoise Campground was a large spot in a small cul-de-sac jutting out into the lake, the parking pad was steeply sloped and it was impossible to level our coach.

#139 at Lake Pleasant was a beautiful site, with a far from level parking area.

After a nice visit with our neighbours from Bracebridge, Ontario, Betty & I scouted other sites, and found a beautiful spot in Roadrunner Campground (#23). We set up and realized that it has one of the most amazing views of any campsite so far!

Betty & Charlie sit before a dramatic view of Lake Pleasant.

So we’ve booked it for another couple of days at $32./night, including water, 50 amp service, a solid picnic table & shelter, and a fire ring – And you can’t beat that view!

We are enjoying a most pleasant stay in site #23 of Roadrunner Campground.

We are learning to be more fluid in our travel planning, and to sit back and enjoy the great spots and fine weather when we find them. Here’s hoping that your journey through life can also have its most pleasant moments, and you can stay in them just a little bit longer.

Shouldn’t we stay just a little bit longer?

Cheers!

“Stay, ah just a little bit longer,
Please, please, please, please, please,
Tell me that you’re going to

Now your Daddy don’t mind,
And your Mommy don’t mind,
If we have another dance, yeah,
Just one more, one more time.

Oh won’t you stay, just a little bit longer,
Please let me hear you say that you will
Say you will..”

Songwriter: Cedric Allen Williams

Another sunset – time to go… Cheers!

Return To The Big Frickin Cactus

One of the sensational sentinels overlooking our site (#A56 at Gilbert Ray, near Tucson, Arizona).

If you remember back to Betty’s daily exclamation at Gilbert Ray Campground in Tucson Mountain Park (March 2018), there were a lot of very tall dramatic cacti keeping watch around our motorhome. Well, we’re back in Tucson, and in fact parked again in site A56 beside the same supersized succulent: A frickin big cactus! 

The same supersized succulent beside our bedroom window that caused Betty’s exclamations early last year.

Our westward journey from Monahans Sandhills State Park included overnight stops in El Paso, Texas and Wilcox, Arizona, with some awesome scenery along Interstate 10 through New Mexico. Rather than driving straight to Tucson, we veered south to the old wild west town of Tombstone, site of the shoot-out at the OK Corral and tons of western memorabilia.   

We met Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp and his brothers on the main street of Tombstone, before their infamous shoot-out in the Ok Corral.

Tombstone had been a silver mining town, but tourism now appears its major industry. A number of blocks are dedicated to western wear, western jewellery, saloons, gun fights, and all things glorifying the old wild west. Coach rides are available up and down the dusty streets.

Doc Holliday shoots at the “bad guy” cowboys in this re-enactment.

Betty & I watched a re-enactment of the gunfight at the OK Corral, along with a film and animated set depicting the history of the town. We took a stroll down the board sidewalks and peeked into a few shops. Fortunately, as full-timers in a tiny house, we were not tempted to add any bric-a-brac or other mementos to our current collection.

Betty goes buggy in Tombstone.
…and takes a fast ride. That’s no bull!

We drove the long way around to Tucson, intending to stay on BLM land to the west of the city. Arriving at dusk, we took our life (and our home on wheels) in our hands, driving off-road into a large tract of land dotted with RVs of all shapes and sizes. Following a dirt path through the scrub brush, we came to a small clearing that appeared perfect for our motorhome and Smart. This was to be our free home base for the next couple of days!

We took a stroll down Tombstone’s dusty main street yesterday.

Shortly after pulling in, a lady drove up and warned us that the spot where we had parked was a spongy patch of burnt orange clay (She had a technical term for the type of clay, but we had never heard of it). If we stayed, we might find our rig sinking down to the point where a tow truck would be needed to get us out. Just getting into the site was a very risky proposition, and getting out seemed like it could be even more treacherous, with a steep bank that was partly eroded by a recent rain.  We just had to laugh at our improbable situation as I gunned the motor to extricate us from the potential quagmire. 

The layered views around Tucson are truly amazing!

Thanks to our guardian angel, we moved on to solid ground at Gilbert Ray Campground, as it was then too dark to scout out other free parking. Even though we don’t need the 30 amp electrical service that comes with our site, the $20./ night charge is worth it for the amazing views provided at the site. 

Betty & Charlie relax in the afternoon sun.

Betty went for a hike on one of the many trails through Tucson Mountain Park, and I couldn’t stop taking pictures of one great big frickin cactus after another. We still have a couple more days here before heading north to Phoenix, but with so many pics of the perfectly prickly stuff, I just needed to put up a post.

Many, many succulent sentinels mark the path to our campsite at this Tucson area campground.

Cheers! 

Wyatt Earp and his brothers blast away during the gunfight at the OK Corral.
Another view of Tombstone’s main street.
Walter Brennan was one of the many Hollywood stars to get in on the act.
As usual, Betty checks the post prior to publishing, as Charlie rests at her feet.
At dusk, our flowers sit on the picnic table, with a dramatic backdrop.
Ok, the sun is finally setting, so it’s time to end this post. Cheers!

Westward Ho

“Let’s go to Luckenbach, Texas
With Waylon and Willie and the boys
This successful life we’re livin’
Got us feuding like the Hatfields and McCoys
Between Hank Williams’ pain songs and
Newberry’s train songs and Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain
Out in Luckenbach, Texas ain’t nobody feelin’ no pain.”

Let’s go to Luckenbach, Texas. If you can find it…

Ok, Waylon Jennings sang a catchy tune that made Betty & I look for this small town near picturesque Fredericksburg, Texas. When we arrived at our Harvest Host destination – the Messina Hof Winery – we asked the staff for directions. Turns out the road we took from San Antonio through Texas Hill Country passed by Luckenbach, so I guess we blinked and missed it. lol

Betty chats with other visitors to one of Fredericksburg’s wineries.

Since travelling far enough south to avoid the cold that seemed to chase us all the way from Canada, Betty & I are now westward ho, to our winter destination in Arizona.

One last day on the beach before our journey westward.

After taking one last visit to the beaches of North Padre Island and Mustang Island, we headed inland to San Antonio, where we had an appointment at Iron Horse RV to repair the leak in our fresh water tank, and replace our now-destroyed microwave oven.

We spent a couple of days and nights with the kind folk at Iron Horse RV, in San Antonio, while they worked on our coach.

It turned out the leak was just a matter of tightening a loose connection – no parts required. Yeah! But our microwave was another story. The old oven had won the battle when Betty & I tried to remove it, but it was no match for Iron Horse super technician, Tony, who removed it and replaced it with a new more energy efficient convection/ microwave/ grill that looks like it has always been there. No small feat for this odd-sized space! Tony was also able to seal up an unnecessary vent that did nothing but channel cold air into our coach whenever the temperature outside dropped.

Our new microwave/ convection/ grill oven looks like it’s always been there!

There are a number of wineries in Texas Hill Country, and Betty & I were able to sample and purchase a selection of Messina Hof Winery tasty offerings, before crashing for the night in their parking lot.

The Messina Hof Winery participates in the Harvest Host program, so we had a quiet night in their lot after sampling a variety of local Texas wines.
From Corpus Christi westward to El Paso, we have passed beaches, plains, hill country, mountains, plateaus and an odd assortment of bumps on the earth.

We marvelled at the wide range of terrain as we travelled west, with the next night spent in a dirt lot adjacent to the Fort Stockton Walmart. For the last couple of days we have been thoroughly enjoying camping in the dunes of Monahans Sandhills State Park, but are now headed west toward El Paso.

Our campsite (#21) at Monahans Sandhills State Park, was surrounded by fine grain sand dunes. It included 50 amp service, water, a picnic table & shelter for $15./ night.
A family enjoys sledding down one of the many hills. They look like snow sleds, but that’s not snow!…
While it was not windy at Monahans Sandhills State Park, the fine sand shifted enough each night to capture fresh tracks from a wide range of insects, reptiles, and animals.

As we head west, this may be our last day in the everything’s bigger state of Texas. It’s been a great adventure so far, and there ain’t nobody feelin’ no pain.

The main street of Fredericksburg, a suburb of Luckenbach (lol).

Cheers! 

We didn’t stay in Fredericksburg for the Christmas parade that night, but some people had their chairs ready for it early in the day.
You need to angle park your pick-up truck on the main street of Fredericksburg, a town populated by German immigrants.
We had picked up some flowers, and finally got our sign out at Monahans Sandhills State Park. Cheers and Westward Ho!

At The Beach!

Well, this post was intended to be entitled “On The Beach!”, but you know where good intentions can get you. No, we are not on the paved road to hell: We are at Padre Balli Park on North Padre Island. While it is fairly hot – currently 29c – it is far from hell on earth!

Betty, Charlie & our Smart and I soak up the hot sun at the North Padre Island beach.

Let me explain how we got here.

We watched the warm waves roll toward our car as the tide came in.

As previously noted, our travel plans are best written in jello – or in this case sand. From Palo Duro Canyon we had planned on heading west to Santa Fe, New Mexico, but the cold weather was arcing down, bringing below freezing overnight temperatures. So we cancelled our reservation at Hyde Memorial State Park and headed southeast instead. 

A motorhome parks on the beach at Port Aransas, where beach camping is currently free.

The end of our last post had us situated at Guadalupe River State Park, on the northern outskirts of San Antonio. And it was our intention to head east from there to camp ON THE BEACH at either Magnolia Beach or Port Aransas, Texas – two Gulf of Mexico locations that allow free ocean-side camping.  

Betty & I drove for many miles down the beautiful beaches of Mustang Island, where RVs were parked for the day or overnight.

This all made possible, of course, by our new lithium batteries. But in addition to electricity, one needs water, and somehow our fresh water tank sprang a leak. We have an appointment next Tuesday at Iron Horse RV in San Antonio to have the tank repaired, but in the meantime we booked a full service site at a Nueces County park, next to the beach, just outside Corpus Christi.  

Our site (#21) at Padre Balli Park includes a cement parking pad & patio, picnic table, 50 amp service, sewer and (in this case) all important on-site water for $275./week. The palm trees are just starting to recover from the last hurricane that went through.

As many know, Betty & I are not DIY people, but since we were here for Black Friday week, we thought we’d take the time to switch out our old microwave oven for a new one. Some time back the little plastic post that rotates the glass tray broke off, and crazy glue has not fixed it. More recently the button one pushes to open the door also broke, and we have been forced to use a crowbar to open the microwave: Likely not the safest method. lol.  So we were due. All we needed was to remove the old oven and verify the available space. Easier said than done. Betty & I fought with the screws and bolts that hold it together for more than an hour before throwing in the towel. We just hope Iron Horse RV has the time and better luck in removing the obstinate oven! 

Betty & I were able to break the door and control panel off the front of our convection/microwave oven, but that’s as far as we got… It is now an objet d’art in the shabby-shabby motif. lol

In the meantime, we are forced to sit back and relax at the beach. My margarita at the Iron Cactus restaurant on San Antonio’s Riverwalk came with a souvenir mug, so I have been obligated to keep it filled and in reach ever since. 

We have had the same table in the same restaurant on San Antonio’s Riverwalk for the past 3 annual visits. The guacamole is made table side, and an earlier version of their margarita is what inspired my superior concoction (IMHO). I made margaritas great again! Or at least I made a great margarita… Great company too, BTW.

Betty & I would say that Padre Balli Park is far closer to heaven on earth than the other direction. Regardless of our intentions, we are more than happy with the paved road that lead us to our heavenly spot at the beach.

All San Antonio roads lead to the Riverwalk: A must experience!

Cheers, and congrats to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for their Canadian Football League Grey Cup win!

You can see by the tracks in the sand that there is no road: One makes their own path on the beach – a fitting metaphor for our overlandish odyssey.
Whether all roads in San Antonio lead to the Alamo: Here we are. Remember this?
As we often do, Betty & I took a guided tour of San Antonio. In this case it was the open upper level of a double-decker bus on a beautiful November Sunday.
If you are ever in need of a Ghostbuster, look closely at the top of this San Antonio building featured in the movie. Cheers!